Sunday, November 13, 2016

Kevin Smith's Green Hornet

One thing you can say about Dynamite is that they're not afraid to try different things in their story line. Kevin Smith's Green Hornet, also known as Green Hornet Legacy, is proof of that.

First, it makes the Green Hornet story a multi-generational one. It takes the hero out of his pulp legacy era. The original Green Hornet, Britt Reid Sr, makes a major crime bust destroying the last of the "big gangs" that inhabited the city. Britt decides to settle down with his wife and young son and continue working at the paper.

His son, Britt Reid Jr., spoiled and wanting nothing, does nothing with his life. Britt Reid would be suffering from what Malcolm Gladwell would call the bottom of the reversed U-shaped effect of parenting in David Vs Goliath.

Until an aging politician on the outs makes a deal with the devil resulting in a new villain, the Black Hornet, emerging and killing Britt Reid Sr.

Motivated unto action, at last, Britt Reid Jr becomes... yeah, the Green Hornet.

The original Kato has a daughter, Mulan. She not only becomes the new Kato,  but she also becomes the new driver of the Black Beauty. Her design and introduction has fans and haters.

The introduction of a female minority lesbian character should be all thumbs up to some, but then, of course, it's a comic book so...

The new duo then goes on to fight crime much as the original pair.

Sounds simple enough right?

But Kevin makes it a little more intelligent than that.

The 'villains' of the piece, Oni Juuma and his son, Hirohito Juuma, play up many of the traditional roles against trope. The attack against the original Green Hornet? The introduction of the Black Hornet? The "criminal" elements put into place?

All if it merely a sideshow for the capture of a powerful military weapon to be sold on the black market. The whole elaborate "revenge" bit only done ot get attention. To have people looking at one place instead of another.

Now Kevin does fall into a bit of a rut in the magical thinking routine. When Oni Juuma at the end notes his rage at having his deal fall apart because the Green Hornet has cost him millions, it harkens back to Austin Powers.

In Austin Powers, there's a scene where a newly awoken Dr. Evil demands "one million dollars" only to learn his corporation makes over nine billion dollars a year.

While the military jet and it's value and indeed impressive, Hirohito is the head of a game company that just made over three hundred million dollars and is set to produce another game which would probably go even further. So... if it's ALL about the money, all about the sleight of hand to get the money, why bother with the jet in the first place?

There's also a distinct lack of mothers. While Reid Jr does have a mother, she makes a handful of appearances and dies offstage of cancer. The Black Hornet? Kato? Wives or mothers? What? Nah. Skip all that.

Kevin's might be a little aware of it, though. After all, Hirohito, the son, the one who goes out as "The Black Hornet" is more about the "personal" satisfaction bit. How the Green Hornet took from him, from his family, and how that needs avenging.  The clash of emotional carthasis versus the need for cash is powerful.

Kevin Smith's original run of the Green Hornet is great. It's complete in it's telling. If you're looking to see examples of how pulp heroes of yesteryear can change to modern times, you could do worse than Kevin Smith's Green Hornet.